If his diet doesn’t look as robust as it should, says Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Dashon Goldson, you can blame the NFL. “The NFL took all my money. My fridge is a little empty because my pockets are empty,” says Goldson, who was fined nearly half a million dollars for illegal hits last season. Yet the 6-foot-2, 208-pound Goldson, who has a reputation as one of the hardest-hitting safeties in the league, says he has never been known as a healthy eater. “During the season, I try to eat healthy, the key word being try,” he says. “In the off-season, I eat a lot of fast food—and it’s not always the healthiest.”
If there’s any redemption to his fried-food diet, it’s that Goldson—a fourth-round pick out of Washington by the San Francisco 49ers in 2007 who joined the Bucs before the 2013 season—eats how he plays, doing what he wants on the field and at the table. Says Goldson of his penchant for bringing KFC into Tampa Bay’s team cafeteria, “[Other players] will ask me, ‘Why you eating that?’ But those guys want to be on the men’s magazines. I just keep eating.”
Fried chicken: “I’m a real picky eater, so if there’s something I don’t like in the cafeteria, I’ll go to KFC and get a 10-piece order of wings to eat before or after practice,” says Goldson. If you’re surprised a football player with a five-year, $41.25 million contract—the deal Goldson signed in part with the Bucs last year—would eat fried food before a tough training session, he says some of his teammates are, too, but the meal hardly stops him from taking out running backs and wide receivers with an impressive, if occasionally extralegal, show of athletic force. “You should try the hot wings from KFC—they’re really good,” he suggests.
Salmon: When Goldson does eat healthily, it’s usually with some kind of seafood, which the safety says he tries to consume as much as possible in season. “I usually do tilapia or Alaskan salmon,” says the 29-year-old Goldson. “The oils in it are good. And when I work out, I take fish oil, but if you eat enough fish, you don’t need the supplements.” During season, Goldson says he hires a personal chef to make him several seafood dishes each week, but in the off-season, the former Huskie will do a little cooking of his own. “I’ll grill salmon or put it in the oven and broil it, throw some spices on there,” he says.
Nature Valley Granola Bars: No power bars or protein shakes for Goldson—he says he prefers granola bars to get the extra edge on field. “I like the taste and the convenience,” says Goldson. “They’re like an appetizer, just to hold me over.” But does he find it troubling at all that he may be one of the only guys on the gridiron not obsessed with his protein intake or using some sort of engineered nutrition for performance? “Why so serious? Do I have to be that serious?” Goldson asks in reply. “All I need is something in the tank.”
Doritos: Goldson’s self-described “go-to” snack is also a mainstay for many football fans: Doritos, preferably in Regular or Spicy Nacho. “I eat them at least one or twice a week,” he says. Contrary to popular opinion, Goldson doesn’t think the fried tortilla chips hurt his performance on field. “I think they even help it,” he says. “Sometimes, when I get hungry, they help because when I have an empty stomach, it’s convenient for me to just eat them and play.” Of course, bananas and apples are also convenient, but we understand if they don’t taste as good.
Jamaican beef patties: Goldson’s diet may not be a paragon of performance nutrition, but he is true to his Caribbean heritage and regularly indulges in a turnover-like pastry made from curried meat known as a Jamaican beef patty. “It’s a Jamaican thing because my parents are Jamaican,” says Goldson, who grew up outside of Los Angeles. “I eat them with a specialty Jamaican bread called coco bread.” The safety says the beef patties are the ideal at-home convenience food, easy to make when his cupboards are bare. “It’s like throwing a Hot Pockets in the microwave,” he says of the frozen patties. “I eat them when I get lazy and don’t have a lot of food.”
Welch’s fruit juices: Another manifestation of Goldson’s Jamaican upbringing is his yen for tropical juice, which he says he drinks on a daily basis, both in- and out-of-season. “I love juice, I grew up on juice,” he says. While probably not as fresh or flavorful as what his mother served him as a child, several varieties of Welch’s tropical juices usually line Goldson’s otherwise scantily filled refrigerator. “Strawberry-mango, pineapple-banana—it’s all good,” he says.